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COVID-19 Pandemic a Learning Moment for HBCU Funding, Alums Say

A pair of alumni from historically Black colleges and universities said such institutions will face extraordinary financial difficulties this fall upon reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Tony Gilmore and Walter Farrell Jr. say that while comprising 14 percent of the U.S. population, historically Black colleges and universities which are not removed from any of the aggravating factors as the core of their student enrollments, will find it especially difficult this fall to be less affected by the soaring costs of tuition and expenses.

Close to 50 percent of HBCUs are state schools with budgets that will be reduced by an income shortage as growing numbers of financially distressed students consider institutions that are safer, less expensive and closer to home.

With public and private HBCU endowments roughly 70 percent smaller than those of predominately White institutions (PWIs), none of the 90 colleges with endowments of more than $1 billion is an HBCU, and even the wealthiest — Howard University, with upwards of $570 million — ranks 160th.

North Carolina, home to 10 HBCUs, more than any other state, has only North Carolina A&T ($57 million) ranking in the top 10 for HBCU endowments.

The pandemic has now become a learning moment about the necessity of well-funded endowments for higher education.

While Moody’s Investment Service cautions that schools with smaller endowments — across the board — may face closure, HBCUs with larger endowments will experience less difficulty.

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